Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Treat?

The concept of trick or treating probably originated with the Celts more than 2,000 years ago.  On the evening of October 31st every year, Celtic people would provide offerings around a bonfire for their dearly departed who would return that night for an earthly visit.  To drive away the unwanted spirits who inevitably would want to crash the party, the clever Celts would dress in costume to scare the nasty rascals away.  Several versions of this have changed throughout the centuries, but the basic idea of a disguise and offerings of food remain today.  Costumes of aliens, superheroes and French maids are certainly a spin on the original animal skin disguise – and have improved the odor substantially – they all allow the wearer to be someone else, if only for a night, ward off an evil spirit or two, and get a couple candy bars to boot!

Depending on your age (and some would note, gender) one could spend a lot of time in a costume selection.  Youngsters start imagining themselves in a variety of popular garbs almost the minute that multi-colored maple leaves start appearing on school bulletin boards.  The concept of costume pre-planning drops significantly, however, as children age and turn into young adults.  As I have witnessed the male members of my family, pre-planning really means, “What can you (wife/mom) put together for me as a costume?  Oh, and I need it in an hour…”

Pre-planning for anything seems to improve with age, perhaps because we are more aware of our mortality, or because we have more experience with times when a lack of pre-planning created its own disaster.  The irony is that we can and will plan for things that we have experienced or gives us a good feeling.  Planning for a birthday or anniversary may be work, but you see the results and in a positive way.  Planning for something you have either not experienced or just can’t imagine is often something people put off indefinitely.

Disaster planning (or more correctly emergency preparedness!), however, is really not difficult, but it is hard because it reminds us that bad things can and do happen.  Maybe we should just think of it as a choice between the comfort of being ready for a disaster or crisis, or the chaos and harm that comes with the bad stuff when we don’t. 

 So, when we think of it, it comes down to the same thing – “Trick or treat?”

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